For the heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Hulk is the good guys' ace in the hole. When things get tough, the big green guy comes in to smash things right, particularly for Bruce Banner. It's something that fans expected to see in Avengers: Infinity War, thanks to trailers showing Hulk as part of the battle of Wakanda. However, that scene didn't appear in the final cut of the film and that absence was deliberate.
In trailers for Avengers: Infinity War fans saw Bruce Banner's (Mark Ruffalo) angry green alter ego burst on the scene to help pummel down Thanos and his forces, giving viewers hope that the heroes might have a real chance at preventing the Mad Titan from collecting all six Infinity Stones and wiping out half the life in the universe. Instead, the only time viewers saw the Hulk during the final cut of Infinity War it was at the film's opening when he tried -- and failed -- to take down Thanos on the Asgardian refugee ship. After that, we don't see the green guy again.
Speaking at an event for the Smithsonian on Wednesday, directors Joe and Anthony Russo explained that the Hulk's appearance in the trailers was a deliberate misdirect to prevent fans from figuring out the movie's ending, but also explained that having the Hulk show up to save the day never gave Banner a chance to be the hero -- something they wanted to change.
"We have to be careful with the character of Banner," Joe Russo said. "Because if every time he's in trouble Hulk saves him, Hulk becomes the hero and he becomes whiny. We wanted to force Banner to be the hero."
It's an interesting choice, but one that Avengers: Infinity War subtly sets up for. Right before Hulk bursts on the scene to fight Thanos in the film's opening, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) declares that "we have the Hulk" to Thanos to reveal that they aren't defenseless. It's a line copied from Marvel's The Avengers, where Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) used it on Loki before Hulk showed up and beats Loki into submission. However, while Tony's call for Hulk was successful, Loki's was not. Hulk was the one getting smashed in the fight with Thanos. He retreats into Banner and doesn't come back out again no matter how hard Banner tries.
Without out Hulk to save him, Banner has to find a way to fight as himself which he does by stepping up and putting on the Hulkbuster armor to fight for the universe alongside his allies in the end. As for the Hulk returning in Avengers 4 next year? The Russo's shrugged the question off which means fans will just have to wait and see for themselves.
Avengers: Infinity War is in theaters now. The fourth Avengers film hits theaters next year.
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